The Indispensable Memory-Keeping Tool: Custom Fonts

Lex interviews our resident Font Queen Darcy Baldwin who makes a case for using one’s handwriting as a font, and takes us through her font-making process


“I never imagined I’d be doing something like this,” Darcy Baldwin, fontographer, confessed. “But I was given the opportunity to learn how to create fonts from a friend who was retiring her business; she wanted to pass along the knowledge to me to help me create my own business. I jumped at the chance to do something so cool!” Darcy was awesome enough to answer a few more questions we had about fonts and making them. And y’all might find a little something special to look at the end of this post as well 🙂

What are the common misconceptions about creating fonts?
That somehow [my client’s] writing is so bad that I’ll never be able to capture it in a font. I work with a client to make sure the font looks as much like their handwriting as I can possibly make it, even it if means getting another sample or two.

What do you love about making fonts?
I love being able to work with someone to preserve a small piece of themselves. It’s so much fun to see someone excited to receive their font and talk about starting to scrap again so that they can begin telling stories again, because this makes it more personal to them.

What do you think makes a font iconic?
A timeless, classic line that helps you see the text and emotion portrayed without getting caught up in the actual lettering. You don’t want the style of a font to overtake what it’s actually trying to say. That’s not to stay that a font’s style can’t become the trademark –think Disney. Disney just doesn’t seem the same written out in a typewriter text as Disney in its iconic font.

What are your favorite qualities in a font?
Fonts that have character. I love a stylistic g. I love fonts that have emotion built into their style. And as a fontographer, I love a font that technically awesome.

Why do you think people should have fonts made of their handwriting?
Foremost, as a storyteller, having journaling and text in the writing style of yours (or any family member) will be treasured down the road. I think back about how I treasure the hand-written recipe cards of my mother and grandmother, most particularly because THEY wrote them..and it’s a little piece of them I still have. Besides, just how neat is it to be able to type on the computer and see your writing style reflected? That’s just plain cool!!!

ON YOUR FONT-MAKING PROCESS:
After your clients submit their font sample, what happens?
I spend some time in quality cont
rol mode–taking the font through a couple of clean-up processes (Step 1 & 2)to make sure the samples are the best quality I can get them.
While stylish, messy fonts are awesome, I find people really do want their personal fonts to be more. So I work hard to create clean strokes where their pens may not have given one (Step 3), and connectors that really connect in as many combinations as possible (Step 4) and then that it looks correct in use (Step 5) and then some super secret things I do to make fonts a little more realistic. Of course, if a client WANTS something super messy, less composed and grungy looking, that’s the look I go for!

Any tips for creating a kick-@ss font sample?
Relax. Seriously. I think so many clients get so caught up in the creation of a sample letter that they lose what makes the characteristics of how they normally write that letter. Also, use an awesome pen. Using the ball point pen you’ve had sitting in a desk for the last 20 years isn’t going to be the best choice 🙂 And last, be creative! If you want a fun font – make it! It doesn’t have to be in your exact writing, but take the time to make something you’d love to see!

What is the most time-consuming process of creating a font?
Glyph cleanup. The glyph is the individual character in a font. For varying reasons, the stroke on a character isn’t always clean and I do my best to clean up those strokes so that you don’t have big blotches where ink may have absorbed into paper, or where a pen didn’t quite connect fully to paper on a curved stroke, etc.

What is your favorite part of the process?
The reveal 🙂

Now for the FUN stuff

Hope you enjoyed that little chat we had with Darcy, and we hope you also realize how creating your own font (or a loved one’s font) is also another way of memory-keeping! How cool would it be to tell your future stories with YOUR own handwriting? Well, Darcy is generously offering a custom-print font for one lucky commenter on this post! Here’s how to win:

1. Go LIKE her Facebook page! You want to stay updated on any new fonty goodness, right? Plus you never know when a freebie can pop up. 🙂
2. Come back to this post and leave a comment answering this question: Why would you want your own custom-made font?

That’s it! Giveaway closes at 11:59PM EST of May 31. Thanks for reading!

Credits: Title made using DJB Snarky Bess and Misty Cato’s Color Lift Photoshop Styles.

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49 comments

  • I already “like” Darcy’s FB page, but I had to check just to make sure it still showed “liked.” Great interview – I loved reading about Darcy’s font creation process.

    I would want my own custom-made font so that future generations will see how I wrote and because my DH doesn’t think I really need a pen tablet for purpose of having my handwriting on my layouts. lol As much as I love digi scrapping, the one thing I really miss about paper scrapping is the personal touch of handwriting. Thank you!

  • I would love my own font! I actually really meant to buy some the other day but it somehow slipped my mind. 🙂 I need a custom font for my Project Life pages!

  • I have already liked Darcy’s page.

    I would love to have my own font in my handwriting so that when I scrap a digital page the journaling will be all mine in my own handwriting!

  • What an awesome prize possibility! Off and on I’ve thought about maybe getting a font with my own handwriting, but I tend to prefer “neat” journaling on a page and usually end up using something that looks a little nicer than my own handwriting. I was struck by something as I ready this interview though…. the fact that I want my boys to look at a layout I created and know that it is their mom’s writing on it. I treasure the recipe cards and other samples of my own mom’s writing, and I want my boys to have the same feelings when they see their scrapbooks. If I don’t win a handwriting font, I’m going to buy one anyway!

  • I already like Darcy’s page…because Darcy is amazing 🙂

    I’d love a font of my own handwriting because it think it would make journaling for future generations more special. It just makes it more personal.

  • Schaweeeeeet prize!!

    I think it would be really cool to have my own font for when I’m writing letters to my children or for when I am making my own customized cards/invitations. It would make those things all the more personal.

  • So I can have my handwriting on my layouts, but also because all the cool kids do it. ; )

  • I’d love my own font!! I’ve used the automatic generator programs but they look bad. You can see all the flaws from the ink and the paper. Thanks for this giveaway~

  • I think a customized font would make my scrapbooking pages feel even more special, unique and personalized! Your handwriting is like your voice, no one else’s is just like it!

  • Start to digitally write with my very own font? Yes, Please!! First thing I thought: “RE-DO every single page I already made using this time with my custom font!!” << yea, "impossibru" but a girl can dream! LOL But I have my baby girl 1st year project life to do and I'm already gathering goodies. My own custom font would be AWESOME right now to do it.

  • I would love to use the font in my teacher newsletters that are created monthly… that would be aweseome.

    Thanks for the chance
    Demetria

  • I would love to win my handwriting in a font because I have a very unique style and it would be fantastic to have it on all my pages. I have many of Darcy’s fonts and just love them, but my very favorite is “My Boyfriend’s Handwriting”.

  • I’m getting arthritis in my hands, so writing by hand is becoming more difficult. When I was still paper scraping I started typing my journaling and printing it out to use on my pages. Now with digital scrapping I don’t have to worry about handwriting journaling any longer, but would love to have my journaling on my digi pages in my own handwriting again – that would be super cool!

  • I have been a fan on Darcy’s page for a long time! I love her fonts and even though people tell me all the time that I am crazy to buy fonts when there are so many freebies on the web, I buy them anyway. Darcy creates some really awesome fonts. Why would I want my own font? Simple. I type far faster than I write, so if I could type and have it look like my handwriting, it would make my scrapping pages that much more personal, that much better and that much more treasured.

  • I already like Darcy’s page.

    I’d love to have my own font in my handwriting because it would be super cool. I could tell all my friends that I’m famous and show them my handwriting in the shoppe. 🙂

    That and it would be neat for my scrapping pages.

  • I loved reading how Darcy makes the fonts! Very interesting. I too treasure those letters from my mom and grandmothers just because they’re hand written. I would love to have a custom font to use on my layouts. Awesome prize! Thank you.

  • I would love to have my own font so that when my kids look back at their albums, they see that little bit of my personality!

  • Ohhhhh I would love a font from my handwriting.

  • Not sure if it is possible, but I would love to have my grandma’s handwriting as a font. She passed away a few years ago, but I always smile when I see her handwriting on a recipe or card. Thanks for the chance to win.

  • OH! It would be cool to have my writing to be made as a font!! I’d be so excited to use it on my scrappy pages!! Thanks for the chance!

  • I would love to use it for digital Pocket journaling! 🙂

  • My mother passed away 7 years ago. Recently, when going through some of my papers, I stumbled upon a paper that had some notes jotted down by my mother to me. A rush of emotion went through me just at the glance of her handwriting; I was filled w joy and with love for her and I felt her love for me.

    Now I love the notion of “immortalizing” my hand digitally for the groovy factor and sheer practicality. But on a deeper level I hope someday my children (and even future grandchildren) will read my words in my own hand and will feel my love and our love connection that will bridge time and death.

    THANKS so much for this opportunity!

  • I would love my own font so I can truly personalize my journaling, and that when my kids read it someday, they would know that I personally wrote it for them.

  • Actually, I can’t see any reason why NOT get one. 🙂 It’s really neat to have it for adding a personal touch to one’s pages, but also for remembering your writing… My writing’s changing a lot over time, and I wish I had my previous ones preserved this way!

  • I would love to have my own font so that I can preserve not only the memories of the photos, but so that my kids can think of me when they see the books I’ve made. One of my most cherished items is a cookbook that my mom made for me with bunches of her hand-written recipes.

  • I’ve been “liking” Darcy’s page for quite a while now, well in relation to the amount of time I’ve been scrapping. Her fonts are the first I spent money on and I have this “compulsion” to keep adding to my collection. I had this crabby, ancient (she could only teach a half day), really mean nun (I know that sounds sacrilegious), who would rap me on the knuckles with a ruler and tell me I was stupid (more of a dreamer actually). The one positive thing she did do was teach me beautiful cursive handwriting. I’d like my personalized font to remind myself that we can overcome the negatives and come out with a positive.

  • I would love to have my own font because it is another “piece” of me that I can leave for my children. I journal on most of my pages but since I scrap digitally, they don;t get the chance to see my handwriting. Truthfully, I don;t write with pen to paper much anymore so I am worried that they may forget just what my writing looked like. This would be a great gift for me and for them.

  • I already like Darcy on Facebook and for real too!

    I was once told that I had perfect handwriting by a client. Now I have Neuropathy in my hands and my handwriting isn’t as good as it used to be. I would like to preserve it now while I still can for my digital LO’s to pass down to my family. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  • ‘Liked’
    I would love my handwriting as a font because I realised that I don’t do that much actual writing anymore! I do all my scrapping digitally, so the only writing I do is filling out forms, lol!! I would love to be able to write on my scrap pages with my own font! That would be absolutely awesome!

  • I have many of Darcy’s fonts they’re amazing. I have been thinking about getting a custom font of my rubbish handwriting for quite a long time, but never got it done as I thought it didn’t look nice enough to be on a page. As I digiscrap more and more I realise the true aim of it; not just making pretty pages but more importantly leaving a part of you, your family, your hopes, your life, behind for others to understand you better, and hopefully learn from it. It is a very intimate and personal experience, and I now realise that your own handwriting can tell so much about you it is almost a necessity to have it on your page, telling your story.

  • I’m already a fan! I would love my own handwriting font so my grandkids can remember how I wrote as well as future generations. I wish I had more things in my dads writing as he had beautiful handwriting. Something like this would have been cool. Our son just got his first tattoo with a quote that I wrote out- the tattoo artist copied exactly and now he has it on his back. It’s pretty cool! Thank you for the chance to win.

  • I would like to have my own wway of writting because everybody who read it says that it’s nice and pleasant to read. I do more digiscrap than a few years ago and it will be very nice to have my own way of writting. Lot of kiss from Spain

  • I would live to have a custom font so that when I am scrapping a page I do not have to peruse a million different fonts to try and capture another aspect of the page. I would love to just use my own “handwriting”. How awesome would that be!?
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  • I would love to have my own custom-made font because everything is so digital now. You no longer write letters, and even cards can be sent online. If you think about it, you barely see your own handwriting anymore. This way I can have my own handwriting in all my digital scrapbooking projects and also in emails!! 🙂

  • My Father had beautiful handwriting. He dies when I was 12. I have saved a collection of vhs cases w/his handwriting with the intention of making a font from his writing. I have been scrapping my baby photos andi think having the stories in his writing would be perfect!

  • I have always journaled a lot on my pages when I did paper. That was really my own words in my own hand. There is something special about that for future generations. I love ALL KINDS of fonts! But I would like to have a custom done so that when I am journaling something extra special, or a message in a book, it is in my own words in my own hand. 🙂 Thank you for a chance to win this.

  • I’ve always wanted a custom font. People have always told me my handwriting looks like it should be a font anyway. And the 31st is my birthday! So it’d be a great birthday present! 😉

  • Would love to have my own handwriting. How cool is that?

  • I already LIKED Darcy’s page! I would love my own font so my layouts really look like I journaled on them. Way cool!

  • I’ve been a FB fan of Darcy’s for a while now.

    I really struggle with finding the “perfect” font for my digi scrapbook pages. I don’t love my handwriting in general, but I think if I spent some time working on it for a digi font, it would be something I end up treasuring and using regularly!

  • Because it would be fun to look back and see my handwriting on many layout pages.

  • I think Darcy’s fonts look great. I would love to have my own handwriting as a font. I think it is important for memory keeping. I want my kids to have me journal in my handwriting, but I am too afraid of having a mistake. With a custom font I could have my handwriting without mess-ups! Thank you for your generosity!

  • Why would I want a handwriting font in my handwriting? Let me count the ways – no, let me sum up – because I think it would add a more personal touch to my pages at times … and I really do need to embrace my handwriting in general [I am not a fond of it, but it’s me].

  • I think that too often people disregard how special it is for the people they leave behind to have documented memories of the life they enjoyed with their loved ones. Handwriting is a big part of that! I know so many people say they hate their writing, but to your loved ones it is a very special part of you. I would love my own font so that I can include it in my scrapbooks to share with my loved ones and really add that very special touch. Thank you for the opportunity 🙂

  • I think using your own font is like writing with your own hand, in scrapbooking I think it just strengthen the meaning of why we do it (for memory keeping) and makes the pages more personal. Thank you for the chance!

  • I’d love to add more “me” to my pages. Sure it may not be the prettiest handwriting out there (trust me on that WOO!) but it would be special.

  • I would love a custom font made with my handwriting because that is what I miss most about actual paper scrapping. I miss feeling “connected” to the page. If I had my own font, I could use it on several different pages and someday, when I am gone, my kids would still have a “piece” of me! It just seems alot more personal 🙂

  • I would love my own font because sometimes I feel like using another font for my personal feelings is a little bit of a lie. I want my kids to admire my handwriting and look back at it with fondness like I do with my Mom and Grandma (both are still alive…I should have them get their custom fonts!).

  • When I was in the first grade I learned penmanship and through the years have been fascinated with writing and now fonts. I’m sure my children know how I write but I don’t know if my grandchildren do. All their communications are computer generated. So I really would like my writing to be passed on in my scrapbooking where I know they’ll see it.

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